I have heard people refer to Alexander the Great as one of the greatest military commanders of all time because he was "undefeated in battle" during his lifetime. Is this true? I can imagine him winning every war that he fought but to win every battle seems like an incredible feat. Do we know of any individual battles that he outright lost?

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    He lost one battle when his troops entered India and saw elephants for the first time. They then learned that the elephants can be easily frightened, and in the following battle the elephants handed them an easy victory as they trampled over their opponents. Aug 10, 2016 at 2:16
  • Hypapses if memory serves - which in this instance it may very well not.
    – Anaryl
    Aug 10, 2016 at 8:58
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    Hydaspes seems to be a victory for Alexander.
    – MCW
    Aug 10, 2016 at 12:07
  • @axsvl77 and Anaryl I think you might both be slightly wrong. Firstly because Alexander won at Hydaspes River, gaining control of Punjab. Secondly because he already fought a (small) elephant corps at Gaugamela, where he (famously) won.
    – Ludi
    Aug 10, 2016 at 13:28
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    For a quick review of Alexander's career see ancient.eu/article/660; he won every battle. The revolt of his troops lead to the evacuation of his most eastern conquests. He died at Babylon, probably of pneumonia, aggravated by his injuries. Aug 10, 2016 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


If Alexander the Great is labelled as "one of the greatest military commanders of all time" is not because he wasn't defeated, but because his conquests.

Having said that, yes, it's true: there's no single defeat recorded for Alexander.

It can be argued the primary sources about his life were not impartial, but the Battle of Hydaspes river is recorded as a decisive victory for the Macedonians, not even a "Pyrrhic" victory.

Alexander's troops mutinied at the Hyphasis river because exhaustion at the prospects of campaigning for eight years more, as Alexander (at first) had no intentions of turning back.

But even if Alexander lost a battle anywhere, that wouldn't make of him a less better commander. Most commanders wearing the "undefeated" badge could choose to fight or not to fight (Davout and Suvorov come to mind). Others simply could not afford that luxury.

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    The only defeat of Alexander was not in a battle but in a siege. He failed to conquer Termessos.
    – Midas
    Aug 18, 2016 at 18:40

Alexander the Great won every battle he fought. There's no way to verify this other than to look at all his battles one-by-one, which you can do (check the links in the infobox of the Wikipedia article you linked).

That's not to say he never encountered setbacks - in the Battle of the Persian Gate he was delayed by a month - but he was always the final victor of each struggle.

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